- John Silvester
- April 2, 2009
POLICE uncovered a secret stash of uranium in country Victoria during a series of top-level drug raids yesterday.
They have no idea why a drug suspect would have hidden the material in a storage area near Bendigo.
Detectives from the Petra Taskforce and Ethical Standards Department, backed by the Special Operations Group carried out eight raids in Melbourne and country Victoria.
They allegedly found a working amphetamine lab in a house in Preston. But they also found about 300 grams of uranium oxide in a Harcourt Storage property.
A team from the Department of Human Services wearing special protective gear was called in remove the uranium and take it to a safe facility.
Police say uranium is not used to produce illicit drugs.
Uranium oxide is the "raw" or naturally found form of uranium. In this form it is not usable for either reactor fuel or a weapon. To be refined into reactor-grade fuel, it must go through an expensive and complex enrichment process.
A man, 46, was arrested nearby at High Street, Kangaroo Flat. Police seized approximately $120,000 cash, a handgun and chemicals suspected of being intended for use in the manufacture of amphetamine.
The man has refused to say why he had hidden the uranium or for what purpose he had obtained the radioactive material.
Police seized eight litres of liquid amphetamines at a house in Penola Street, Preston. They also seized $35,000 in cash. A Preston man, 42, was charged with trafficking in a drug of dependence.
A third man, 49, was arrested at a home on Bulla Road, Bulla, where police seized 50 hydroponic cannabis plants, chemicals and glassware suspected of being intended for use in the manufacture of [meth]amphetamine.
The raids by Petra are part of a joint Office of Police Integrity/ Victoria Police investigation, codenamed Operation Plyers, into the leaking of confidential police documents.
Petra was established to investigate the murders of police informer Terence Hodson and his wife Christine, who were killed in their Kew home in May 2004.
Former drug squad detective sergeant Paul Dale and Rod Collins have been charged over the murders.
When Collins was arrested in his Northcote house, detectives found the 58-page confidential police report on a major drug dealer.